Waco HVAC Technology

(WACO, Texas) – Cassidy Self, of Groesbeck, is used to standing out.

Self, an HVAC Technology student at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus, is the first in her family to attend college. 

She is also the only female in her program.

“I was not all that surprised,” Self said. “I wish there were more girls. It will normalize women going into a male-dominated field.”

Self is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology. She said her favorite lessons so far have involved drawing schematics, hooking up light bulbs, and working with parallel circuits.

“I think having a smart worker like a woman who can see angles better and take things into more consideration will improve the field,” she said. “I think it should be equalized that hard work can be done by women also.”

Self’s first experience in career and technical education was taking a construction class during her senior year at Groesbeck High School. She picked HVAC Technology to study at TSTC despite having no prior knowledge about the field. She said she considered the money she could make and the enjoyment in working while making her decision.

“For trade schools, you get to be taught exactly what you are doing in the field,” Self said. “You get hands-on work — you touch everything.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2023 Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, women make up only 2.3 percent of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration field.

“There is no lack of opportunities for women to enter the industry,” said Stevan Panici, an instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program in Waco. “Employers are simply interested in hiring anyone that is willing and able to gain knowledge and do the work that is required in the trade.”

Panici said women pursuing the field do not need just to be technicians. He said there are opportunities in project engineering and management, sales, and dispatch that need workers.

Victoria Schaefer, executive director of the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association in Austin, said women can become service managers, work in human resources and marketing, and handle social media for HVAC companies.

Schaefer said job sampling is a way for women of all ages to learn more about the HVAC industry.

“I think it has been a male-dominated industry with a few women in support roles,” she said. “If we can reach younger interests, then going into the HVAC industry can open a whole new workforce for us with expanding it to get more women in the field, especially in Texas because we cannot survive without air conditioning.”

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in Texas make a yearly median salary of more than $50,000, according to onetonline.org. Texas is projected to need more than 36,000 workers in 2030.

“There is no problem with women getting jobs if they are willing and able to learn,” Panici said.

Registration continues for the fall semester at TSTC. For more information, go to tstc.edu.

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